UK Engineering, Manufacturing Firms Increasingly Bet On Apprenticeships

The start of National Apprenticeship Week 2014 was marked by the release of severalATG_engineering_060314 research reports highlighting the importance of apprenticeships and their growing popularity among employers. One set of findings came from the UK manufacturers’ association EEF, which has found that local manufacturing and engineering companies are increasingly depending on apprentices to tackle the skills shortage problem, Automation magazine reports.

According to the EEF study, 60% of UK engineering and manufacturing firms have recruited an apprentice in the past year. In further good news, more than two-thirds plan to take on engineering and manufacturing apprentices in the 12 months ahead. With the majority (75%) typically bringing in trainees aged 16 to 18, it is apparent that apprenticeships have become critical for building the country’s future talent base.

Commenting on the findings, EEF apprentice and skills director Peter Winebloom said it was great to see that UK engineering and manufacturing firms are actively recruiting apprentices. It is even more encouraging that this practice is growing in popularity. The looming skills gap is a massive challenge for the sector and apprenticeships can help tackle that problem. Moreover, unless the UK has a sufficient supply of engineering and manufacturing talent it will not be able to realise its economic growth potential.

But apprenticeships are not just a means of injecting fresh blood into the sector, Winebloom added. We should not forget their importance for the young people who choose that road: for them, apprenticeships represent the launch pad to professional development and career growth, he pointed out.

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20% Of SMEs Plan Apprentice Recruitment Within 12 Months

It is encouraging during National Apprenticeship Week to see the results of a new studyATG_new-apprentice_040314 among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) concerning their apprenticeship plans. According to the research, 20% of SMEs intend to take on at least one apprentice in the 12 months ahead, while 39% plan to make apprenticeships part of their strategy within five years, Real Business reports.

Conducted by the Institute of Commercial Management, the poll also revealed that 29% of SMEs see apprentice take-up as part of their core growth strategy. In a sign that apprenticeships are becoming more popular, nearly 50% of SMEs said they were now more likely to create apprenticeship positions than two years ago. Moreover, 33% stated that they were ready to take on apprentices because employing them had become easier.

Commenting on the research results, Business Secretary Vince Cable said it was great to see the value of apprenticeships being increasingly recognised by employers. Businesses of all sizes have come to regard apprentices as very important and valued members of their staff.

Cable went on to add that he was immensely proud of the work the current government had done in promoting apprenticeships and the resulting surge in apprentice employment. A key part of the government’s strategy is support for SMEs so it is particularly good to see that the grants made available are spurring apprenticeships in this sector. Apprentice recruitment has now come to be considered a vital element of sustainable growth strategies, Cable concluded.

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Go For It: An Apprentice On Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are finally getting the attention they deserve but the road aheadATG_chalkboard_250214 remains littered with obstacles. Through research reports and expert analyses, we are constantly reminded how important apprenticeships are for ensuring the UK’s talent supply and how they benefit all parties involved. However, the best source of information is apprentices themselves and the companies that employ them. For its Apprentice Of The Week series, the Huffington Post met recently with a young woman in training and got to hear her thoughts on the biggest myths surrounding apprenticeships and her advice for school leavers, among other things.

Georgia Cosma is doing an NVQ Level 4 apprenticeship in project management at Neopost. Talking about some of the persistent myths clinging to apprenticeships, she pointed out that many people remained unaware of how greatly opportunities have expanded. Nowadays, vocational training is no longer confined to manual specialities such as carpentry and building. Young people can now start with an apprenticeship to build fantastic careers in virtually every industry. There is also a widespread misconception about apprentice pay. While the nationally applicable minimum is quite low, it is very rare for employers to pay their apprentices that amount. Most would start an apprentice on the pay scheme for new employees and some actually pay more because they are putting apprentices through graduate programmes.

Georgia is a keen advocate of apprenticeships and advises young people to “go for it.” Some may still be struggling to work out what they want to do and will therefore be at a loss where to start. According to Georgia, business administration or customer service would be a good idea in such cases. An apprenticeship in one of these areas will give trainees a good grasp of all business basics and guide their choice going forward, she said.

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EngineeringUK Report Highlights Need For More Effort On Apprenticeship Front

Last year, EngineeringUK called on the industry, government and the wider scienceATG_engineering_300114 community to work together so that the country can ensure its future supply of engineering talent. As part of that drive, the organisation set specific goals to be achieved by 2020, among them doubling the number of young people under 19 doing Level 3 apprenticeships. EngineeringUK has now released a report detailing the progress made so far and it is clear that efforts need to be intensified in certain areas.

With regard to apprenticeships, the objective is to have 37,000 people aged under 19 doing Level 3 vocational qualifications by 2020. In particular, EngineeringUK has called for more youngsters to do advanced apprenticeships in engineering and manufacturing technology, construction planning and ICT (information and communication technology). This is one of the areas where the State of Engineering 2014 report notes a failure to achieve progress so far. In 2011/2012 the number of under-19s doing an engineering-related Level 3 apprenticeship framework declined by 12.2% to 16,280.

On a more positive note, EngineeringUK points out that 250,000 youngsters completing Level 3 apprenticeships in those areas have achieved BTecs, NVQs, VRQs and QCFs. This is an encouraging fact because these vocational qualifications will be of great importance for building the future talent base of the UK engineering sector.

Part of the solution lies with ATG Training who since 1967 have been delivering high quality Engineering Apprenticeships in the Thames Valley. This makes the organisation well placed to serve the skills requirements of the industry with recruitment, staff training and development in key roles.

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27% Of University Graduates Have Lower Income Than Former Apprentices

Many young people have worked hard to get into university, sustained by the hope that ATG_employees_230114their efforts will pay off in the form of enhanced lifetime earnings. This is what politicians usually use as their argument when they want to push more young people towards academic study. However, new figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) indicate that an apprenticeship could prove more valuable for many youngsters. The website Not Going to Uni has done some calculations which show that graduates can end up earning less than employees who have completed an apprenticeship.

According to the ONS research, 27% of university graduates currently earn less than former apprentices. In addition, 26% of lower-paid graduates were found to be doing part-time jobs, while the proportion for employees with an apprenticeship was 11%.

Not Going to Uni delves deeper into the matter, tackling some numbers typically cited by politicians defending their focus on academic study. According to the most popular statistics, a university degree is likely to add some £150,000 to a person’s lifetime earnings. The estimate for those with an apprenticeship on their CV is for an additional £100,000 or more. But there is one major flaw in these popular statistics: they do not take into account the money spent on obtaining a degree. This will cost at least £53,000 and the figure can be much higher for those studying in London. As Not Going to Uni notes, that level of debt erases any advantages a degree may offer in terms of earning power and leaves graduates with lower lifetime earnings than former apprentices.

For more information on Apprenticeships and the current vacancies that exist visit

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BMW’s UK Arm To Recruit 159 Apprentices

Around 160 young people will be selected to start an apprenticeship programme at ATG_BMWapprentices_160114BMW Group’s UK operations this year, the company has announced.

The new recruits will join the 400 that have already started their training at the company. This year’s apprenticeship programme is set to include 49 young people that will join the MINI manufacturing plants, as the company plans to ramp up production before the new model is revealed. A further 110 apprentices will be recruited in BMW and MINI dealer networks across the UK.

The MINI plant in Oxford is ready to welcome 31 young people who are willing to receive training in various positions, including engineering, IT, logistics and finance, starting in August. The Swindon plant will accept ten more apprentices, while the Hams Hall engine plant has opened eight positions. The full training course takes between three and four years, the company explained.

Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock welcomed the news, commenting that it is always great when a major company like BMW demonstrates that it supports young people and their professional development. The BMW apprenticeship programme is an excellent opportunity for any young person with an interest in the automotive industry to gain experience and maybe start a career in the sector, he added. Hancock also stated that he would like to see apprenticeship programmes becoming part of the norm for young people and that the number of positions opened at various businesses across industries shows that this is becoming a reality.

Commenting on the announcement, a spokesperson for ATG Training said that the Oxford City Learning Careers Fest 2014 would be taking place at the BMW Mini plant next week on 21st and 22nd January.  Many different Apprenticeship routes will be available for young people, teachers, and visitors to review.

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UK Youngsters Need More Apprenticeships, Training To Compete With Migrant Workers

Youth unemployment has become a serious problem for the UK and it may get evenATG_competition_140114 worse now that the job market is fully open to Eastern European migrants. The only way to help young Britons become competitive in the battle for jobs is to ensure that they get high-quality training or are provided with ample apprenticeship opportunities, according to entrepreneur Will Davies.

Davies, head of property maintenance firm Aspect, believes that the government and employers must intensify their efforts to address the problem of youth unemployment. Over a fifth of young Britons under the age of 24 are out of work or not in any training at the moment. This has serious implications for the job prospects of local youngsters because many Eastern Europeans arrive in the country with an apprenticeship on their CV, thus securing an edge over untrained locals, Davies told EN magazine.

The key to making young Britons competitive is betting on apprenticeships and training programmes, the entrepreneur went on to say. Migration is good for the economy of any country but it also raises the bar for local job applicants. Eastern Europeans have built a reputation for their work ethic and this has made its impact on the UK labour force by spurring local workers to improve so that they can compete for jobs. However, UK employers need to do their bit to ensure that local youngsters get access to more apprenticeship and training opportunities. This is the only way they can remain competitive in the job battle with more skilled and experienced migrant workers, Davis concluded.

Commenting on the news a spokesman for Apprenticeship training provider ATG Training pointed to the current opportunities that exist on and the National Apprenticeship Service.

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Record 870,000 In Apprenticeship Programmes 2012/13

The latest statistical release from the Skills Funding Agency’s Data Service shows that ATG_apprentices_031213the number of apprentices in the UK reached a record high of 870,000 in 2012/13.

Since 2010 there have been 1.5 million apprenticeship starts, of which 500,000 were in the last financial year. On an annual basis the 2012/13 figure represented an increase of 77% on 2009/10, said Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock. Besides, the number of people in higher apprenticeships in 2012/13 was 13,000, a two-fold increase on the previous year, the minister added. This is the highest number since higher apprenticeships were introduced by the government. At the same time, the number of people engaged in advanced level apprenticeships went up by 19% on the year to some 380,000 in 2012/13.

The number of apprentices under the age of 19, however, registered a decrease in the period, resulting from the heightened focus on quality and the fact that now all apprenticeships involve actual jobs and not just training, which raised the performance threshold. The number of new apprenticeship starts has not increased, as a consequence of the fact that the minimum apprenticeship term is now one year. However, the scrapping of six-month programmes was considered essential for raising quality standards.

Hancock expressed hope that an apprenticeship will soon become the usual alternative to university for college and school leavers, something that could be done with a strong focus on the quality that employers look for in apprentices.

Following reforms announced in October, apprenticeships are now much more industry-specific and employer-led, ensuring that the participants have the specific skills needed for the particular industry sector. They are also more rigorous than before in order to ensure the high quality of the qualifications acquired.

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Skills Show Provides Information On Training, Apprenticeships For Young People

The National Skills Show was held in Birmingham last week, introducing young peopleskillsshow_181113 to the opportunities available in traineeships, apprenticeships and work experience to help guide them into employment.

As well as the national show, a series of interactive events are being held across the UK, with local training providers, colleges and employers on hand to provide young people with support and advice on the best route to the career they want to pursue.

On 21st and 22nd January 2014 The Skills Show Experience will arrive in the Thames Valley region for the Oxford Careers Fest at BMW Group’s Mini Plant Oxford. ATG Training will be there to showcase our Engineering Apprenticeships and to offer advice and guidance to employers and students alike.

Matthew Hancock, skills and enterprise minister, said last week that experience is highly valuable to young people, no matter how they gain it – through paid or unpaid work – and it helps them get a job. The Skills Show supports all businesses that offer work experience and makes it easier to provide young people with opportunities.

According to the government, traineeships can provide employers with young people who are ready to work and have the knowledge and skills required to begin employment. Employers want people with experience and the qualifications necessary for particular jobs, Hancock pointed out. Good experience in the relevant business sector helps young people to secure employment or an apprenticeship, he added.

The traineeship scheme was launched in August this year and provides experience, skills and confidence for people aged between 16 and 23, allowing them to be competitive on the labour market and helping them secure a job or apprenticeship.

Traineeships last up to six months and offer work preparation training, including CV writing, preparation for interviews, support to improve maths skills or English, as well as a high-quality work experience placement.


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Perkins Review Calls For Concerted Effort To Tackle Engineering Skills Shortage

The UK’s future industrial success is closely tied to its engineering talent pool. Much ATG_engineering_071113has been said and written about the country’s pressing need for engineers and the government is taking an active role in promoting the profession among young people, supporting training initiatives by employers and getting educational bodies involved in the effort. The issue of engineering skills is once again in the spotlight with the release of a report by John Perkins, the professor advising the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) on scientific matters.

The publication contains an analysis of the UK engineering talent pipeline and urges the government, the engineering industry and educators to work together so that the nation can meet its engineering skill needs. In response to the Perkins Review, the government is setting aside nearly £49 million to support initiatives to that end.

About £30 million of the total funding package will be reserved for employers so that they can invest more in training tailored to their specific needs. The government has also earmarked £18 million for the construction of an elite training facility at the Coventry-based Manufacturing Technology Centre. There is also £250,000 allocated as seed funding for Tomorrow’s Engineers, which will use the money to accelerate its engagement programme to employers across the country. This programme aims to make engineering careers more attractive to school children. The Daphne Jackson Trust will get £40,000 for the development of a new fellowship that will help people resume their engineering career after a professional break. Finally, the government is supporting the creation of a portal on the National Careers Service website. It will bring together companies wishing to raise the profile of engineering among school children and organisations capable of assisting employers in that effort.

A spokesman for ATG Training, The Group Training Association which has been delivering engineering training in the Thames Valley since 1967 welcomed the investment and urged engineering employers to engage ever more fully with their training provider in order to ensure their requirements are fully complied with. This method of working  has been the bedrock of ATG Training’s policy since day one.

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